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United States War Crimes During the First Persian Gulf War

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United States War Crimes During the First Persian Gulf War
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First Persian Gulf WarOn February 27, 1992 Albany Law School in Albany, N.Y. convened a Symposium on the subject of “International War Crimes:  The Search for Justice.”  The Symposium organizers invited the author to come in for the express purpose of arguing the case against the Bush Sr. administration for committing international crimes during their Gulf War I against Iraq, and then to debate this position with the other Symposium speakers, who were law professors or lawyers.  The Symposium proceedings were taped for later broadcast by C-SPAN.


1.  For the past year I have been working with the International Commission of Inquiry into United States war crimes that were committed during the Persian Gulf War.  This Commission has conducted the largest independent worldwide investigation of war crimes in history.  Since last May, the Commission has held thirty hearings across the United States and in twenty countries across five continents to expose the war crimes that the United States government inflicted upon the people and State of Iraq.
2.  On Saturday, February 29, 1992 in New York City, at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, the Commission will publicly present its evidence before an International War Crimes Tribunal consisting of distinguished jurists and human rights activists drawn from around the world.  In the brief space that has been allotted to me, I would like to present the basic gist of the charges that will be brought before the Tribunal against President George Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, Secretary of State Jim Baker, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, National Security Assistant Brent Scowcroft, CIA Director William Webster, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, General Norman Schwarzkopf, and other members of the High Command of the United States military establishment who launched and waged this brutal, inhumane, and criminal war.  Hereinafter, these individuals will be collectively referred to as the Defendants.
The Charges
3. The international crimes that have been charged and will be proved against these Defendants consist principally of the three Nuremberg Offenses:  the Nuremberg Crime Against Peace, that is, waging an aggressive war and a war in violation of international treaties and agreements; Nuremberg Crimes Against Humanity; and Nuremberg War Crimes.  In addition, these Defendants also committed grievous war crimes by wantonly violating the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare of 1907; the Declaration of London on Sea Warfare of 1909; the Hague Draft Rules of Aerial Warfare of 1923; the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977; and the international crime of genocide against the people of Iraq as defined by the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 as well as by the United States' own Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987, 18 U.S.C. §1901.  Finally, and most heinously of all, these Defendants actually perpetrated a Nuremberg Crime against their own troops when they forced them to take experimental biological weapons vaccines without their informed consent in gross violation of the Nuremberg Code on Medical Experimentation that has been fully subscribed to by the United States government.

Universal Jurisdiction

4. These international crimes create personal criminal responsibility on the part of all these Defendants that warrant their prosecution under basic norms of customary international law, treaties, and statutes in any state of the world community that obtains jurisdiction over them for the rest of their lives.  We believe that the International War Crimes Tribunal will produce a Judgment that can be put into the hands of every government in the world with the injunction that should any of these Defendants ever appear within their territorial jurisdiction, they must be apprehended and prosecuted for the commission of the specified international crimes.  Like unto pirates, these Defendants are hostes humani generis—the enemies of all humankind!
The Historical Origins of the War

5.  I do not have the time in this brief presentation to analyze the entire history of illegal U.S. military interventionism into the Middle East—especially the Persian Gulf region—and in particular its divide-and-conquer (divide et impera) policies.  Suffice it to say here that the "immediate cause" of the United States war to destroy Iraq and take over the Arab oil fields in the Persian Gulf goes back to the 1973 Arab oil boycott of Europe.  The Arab oil states imposed the boycott in solidarity with those Arab states that were then attempting to reclaim their lands that had been illegally stolen from them by Israel in 1967.  The Arab oil boycott brought Europe to its knees.  Subsequently, Arab oil states were able to increase the price of oil to a point of economic fairness that would enable them to provide for the basic human needs of their own Peoples.
6.  But the success of the Arab oil boycott led several prominent U.S. government officials in the Nixon administration, and especially Henry Kissinger, to publicly threaten that the United States government would prepare itself to seize the Arab oil fields in order to prevent something like the boycott from ever happening again.  This illegal governmental threat was stated openly, publicly, and repeatedly during the course of the Nixon administration, the Ford administration, the Carter administration, and the Reagan administration.  The Bush administration would finally be the one to carry this threat out—but only after a decade of active preparations.
The Rapid Deployment Force
7.  During the course of the Carter administration, the United States government obtained authorization from Congress to set up, arm, equip, and supply the so-called Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), whose primary mission was to seize and steal the Arab oil fields of the Persian Gulf region.  So the planning and preparations for the U.S. war against Iraq go all the way back to the so-called "liberal" Carter administration—at the very least.  The United States foreign policy establishment consists of liberal imperialists, reactionary imperialists, and middle-of-the-road imperialists.  But they all share in common a firm belief in America's "Manifest Destiny" to rule the world.
8.  For the next decade, the Pentagon obtained a new generation of high-technology conventional weapons possessing massive destructive power and lethality; the logistical support network necessary to convey a force of 500,000 soldiers over to the Persian Gulf region within six months; and base access rights and facilities for that purpose throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.  Working in conjunction with its de facto allies in the region such as Egypt and Israel, the Pentagon stockpiled enormous quantities of weapons, equipment, and supplies in the immediate vicinity of the Persian Gulf as a prelude to military intervention.  Hence, the United States government had been planning, preparing, and conspiring to seize and steal the Persian Gulf oil fields for over a decade.
United States War Plans Against Iraq[i]

9.  Sometime after the termination of the Iraq-Iran War in the summer of 1988, the Pentagon proceeded to revise its outstanding war plans for U.S. military intervention into the Persian Gulf region in order to destroy Iraq.  Defendant Schwarzkopf was put in charge of this revision.  In early 1990, Defendant Schwarzkopf informed the Senate Armed Services Committee of this new military strategy in the Gulf allegedly designed to protect U.S. access to and control over Gulf oil in the event of regional conflicts.  In October 1990, Defendant Powell referred to the new military plan developed in 1989.  After the war, Defendant Schwarzkopf referred to eighteen months of planning for the campaign—a campaign whose public rationale was based on the illegal invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, which occurred on August 2, 1990.
10.  Sometime in late 1989 or early 1990, the Pentagon's war plan for destroying Iraq and stealing Persian Gulf oil fields was put into motion.  At that time, Defendant Schwarzkopf was named the Commander of the so-called U.S. Central Command—which was the re-named version of the Rapid Deployment Force—for the purpose of carrying out the war plan that he had personally developed and supervised.  During January of 1990, massive quantities of United States weapons, equipment, and supplies were sent to Saudi Arabia in order to prepare for the war against Iraq, again prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
11.  Pursuant to this war plan, Defendant Webster and the CIA assisted and directed Kuwait in its actions of violating OPEC oil production agreements to undercut the price of oil for the purpose of debilitating Iraq's economy; in extracting excessive and illegal amounts of oil from pools it shared with Iraq; in demanding immediate repayment of loans Kuwait had made to Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War; and in breaking off negotiations with Iraq over these disputes.  The Defendants intended to provoke Iraq into aggressive military actions against Kuwait that they knew could be used to justify U.S. military intervention into the Persian Gulf for the purpose of destroying Iraq and taking over Arab oil fields. To be sure, the recitation of these facts is not intended to justify the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

The U.S. "Green Light" to Invade Kuwait
12.  The Defendants showed absolutely no opposition to Iraq's increasing threats against Kuwait.  Indeed, when Saddam Hussein requested U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie to explain State Department testimony in Congress about Iraq's threats against Kuwait, she assured him that the United States considered the dispute to be a regional concern, and that it would not intervene militarily.  In other words, the United States government gave Saddam Hussein what amounted to a "green light" to invade Kuwait.
13.  This reprehensible behavior was similar to that of the Carter administration during September of 1980, when United States government officials gave Saddam Hussein the "green light" to invade Iran and thus commence the tragic Iraq-Iran War.[ii]  A decade later, Saddam Hussein simply surmised that he had been given yet another "green light" by the United States government to commit overt aggression against surrounding states.  Only this time, the Defendants knowingly intended to lead Iraq into a provocation that could be used to justify intervention and warfare by United States military forces for the real purpose of destroying Iraq as a military power and seizing Arab oil fields in the Persian Gulf.
Bush Is the Bigger War Criminal
14.  On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait without significant resistance.  The Kuwaiti government itself estimated that approximately 300 people were killed as a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and a few hundred more as a result of the military occupation.  By comparison, Defendant Bush's invasion of Panama in December of 1989 took between 2,000 and 4,000 Panamanian lives, and the United States government is still covering up the actual death toll.  Defendant Bush killed more innocent people in Panama than Saddam Hussein did in Kuwait.
15.  Defendant Bush's invasion of Panama was even more illegal, reprehensible, and criminal than Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.  The world must never forget that the first step in the construction of Bush's "New World Order" was his illegal invasion of Panama and the murder of thousands of completely innocent Panamanian civilians.  America's self-anointed policeman in the Persian Gulf had the blood of the Panamanian People on his hands.
Bush's Perversion of the Constitution

16.  Pursuant to the Pentagon's war plan for destroying Iraq and stealing Persian Gulf oil fields—and without consultation or communication with Congress—Defendant Bush initially ordered 40,000 U.S. military personnel into the Persian Gulf region during the first week of August 1990.  He lied to the American people and Congress when he stated that his acts were purely defensive.  Right from the very outset of this crisis—and even beforehand—Defendant Bush fully intended to go to war against Iraq and to seize the Arab oil fields in the Persian Gulf.  Defendant Bush deliberately misled, deceived, concealed and made false representations to the Congress to prevent its free deliberation and informed exercise of legislative power.
17.  Defendant Bush intentionally usurped Congressional power, ignored its authority, and failed and refused to consult with the Congress.  He individually ordered a naval blockade against Iraq—itself an act of war—without approval by Congress or the U.N. Security Council.  Defendant Bush waited until after the November 1990 elections to publicly announce his earlier order sending more than 200,000 additional military personnel to the Persian Gulf for offensive purposes without seeking the approval of Congress.  Pursuant to the Pentagon's war plan, Defendant Bush switched U.S. forces from a defensive position and capability to an offensive capacity for aggression against Iraq without consultation with, and contrary to assurances given to, Congress and the American people.
18.  On the very eve of the war, Defendant Bush then strong-armed legislation through Congress that approved enforcement of U.N. resolutions vesting absolute discretion in any nation, providing no guidelines, and requiring no reporting to the United Nations.  Defendant Bush demonstrated, through the prior planning above indicated, the intention to destroy the armed forces and civilian infrastructure of Iraq.  Those acts were undertaken to provide an international legal cover, under the pretext of responding to an act of aggression, for the commission of a Nuremberg Crime Against Peace and war crimes.  This conduct violated the Constitution and Laws of the United States and especially the War Powers Clause found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the U.S. War Powers Act of 1973, 87 Stat. 555, and the United Nations Charter, which is the "Supreme Law of the Land" under Article 6 of the Constitution.  For this reason alone, Defendant Bush and his co-conspirators committed "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" that warrant their impeachment, conviction, removal from office, and criminal prosecution.
Bush's Mad Rush to War
19.  While concealing his true intentions, Bush continued the military buildup of U.S. forces from August into January 1991 for the purpose of attacking and destroying Iraq.  Bush pressed the military to expedite preparations and to commence the war against Iraq before military conditions were optimum for domestic political purposes so that the war would not interfere with his presidential reelection campaign.  Indeed, the entire timing, conduct and duration of the war were planned so as to promote Defendant Bush's reelection prospects.  But as a direct result of Defendant Bush's mad rush to war, United States military personnel suffered needless casualties.  Defendant Bush has continued to lie and cover up to the American people and Congress the true nature and extent of U.S. casualties during the Persian Gulf War.
Bush Corrupted the United Nations

20.  Defendant Bush repeatedly coerced the members of the United Nations Security Council into adopting an unprecedented series of resolutions that culminated in his securing authority for any nation to use "all necessary means" to enforce these resolutions.  To secure these votes in the Security Council, Defendant Bush paid multi-billion-dollar bribes; offered arms for regional wars; threatened and carried out economic retaliation; illegally forgave multi-billion-dollar loans; offered diplomatic relations despite human rights violations; and in other ways corruptly exacted votes. This illegal activity subverted and perverted the very purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter itself found in articles 1 and 2 thereof.
Bush Circumvented and Violated Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter

21.  In his mad rush to war, Defendant Bush caused the United Nations to completely bypass Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter that mandates the pacific settlement of international disputes.  Defendant Bush consistently rejected and ridiculed all of Iraq's efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the dispute.  Defendant Bush proudly boasted that there would be no negotiation, no compromise, no face-saving, etc.

22.  Defendant Bush's successful attempt to subvert every effort for negotiating a peaceful resolution of this dispute violated the solemn obligation mandating the peaceful resolution of international disputes found in article 2, paragraph 3 of the United Nations Charter; in article 33, paragraph 1 of the United Nations Charter; and in article 2 of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928.  Just like the Nazi war criminals before him, Defendant Bush pursued recourse to war as an instrument of his national policy and for the solution of international controversies in violation of article 1 of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  Just as the Nazi war criminals had done by invading Poland in September of 1939, these Defendants perpetrated a Nuremberg Crime Against Peace in their decision to go to war against Iraq with the intent to seize and steal the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.
The Conduct of the War Itself

23.  Obviously, in the brief space that has been allotted to me, there is no way that I could adequately describe all of the atrocities and war crimes that were committed by these Defendants and their Agents during the course of their actual conduct of military hostilities against the People and State of Iraq.  These matters have been covered in great detail during the course of the public investigations and hearings conducted around the world by the Commission during the past year.  The results of this work will be presented to the members of the International War Crimes Tribunal for their consideration and adjudication.  Nonetheless, I will provide you here with a succinct account of the major categories of war crimes committed by these Defendants during the course of their criminal war against Iraq.

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